New York City

Schneiderman applauds city for agreement with disability advocates on yellow cabs

December 6, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Friday applauded New York City’s agreement to dramatically increase the number of accessible cabs. The agreement, which settles a class-action lawsuit brought by advocates for the disabled, means that half of the city’s 13,000 yellow cabs will be accessible to people with disabilities by 2020.

In April, a federal court cleared the way for a major class-action lawsuit brought by New Yorkers who use wheelchairs to challenge the Taxi of Tomorrow.  Judge Daniels of the Southern District of New York District Court allowed plaintiffs to supplement and amend their complaint to include challenges to the legality of the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) selection of the Nissan NV200 van as the exclusive taxi vehicle of New York City for the next decade.

The NV200 van is not accessible to New York City’s 170,000 residents with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, the suit alleged. Plaintiffs’ supplemental amended complaint alleges that use of the NV200 van as a taxi vehicle violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under Title III of the ADA, when a provider of taxi service purchases or leases a vehicle other than an automobile (such as a van), the vehicle is required to be accessible. As a licensing and regulatory agency, the TLC has an obligation to issue rules which comply with the law.  

However, the TLC’s approval of the non-accessible version of the Nissan Van means that taxi medallion owners who follow the TLC’s rules will be in violation of Title III of the ADA.

“[Friday’s] agreement is an important step to ensuring equal access to taxis for all New Yorkers, including those with disabilities. Its implementation would also meaningfully address issues under investigation by my office. Upon approval of the accessibility rule, which should not impose new burdens on riders or drivers, my office will consider the suspension of our investigation into taxi accessibility issues,” said Schneiderman.

Because only a fraction of medallion cabs are wheelchair-accessible, Attorney General Schneiderman’s Civil Rights Bureau has been reviewing accessibility requirements under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The bureau sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation in relation to this investigation.

–Charisma L. Miller, Esq. contributing.

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